Boris Johnson is not fit for office and “mired in deceit and deception,” according to Labour’s leader.
Sir Keir Starmer made a speech at the Fabian Society in London on Saturday morning.
The focus of the speech is health, but he used it to criticise the embattled Prime Minister.
The opposition leader said Boris Johnson is “not fit for office”.
“We all need the security of knowing that the NHS is there for us when we need it. That will be what my contract will offer and I can’t stress how badly it is needed. Rather than concentrating on getting through the pandemic and bringing down waiting lists, this self indulgent Tory Party is having a fight about a leader who they should have known from the start is not fit for office.
“Boris Johnson is too preoccupied defending his rule breaking and as day follows night, when it comes to the National Health Service, you could never trust the Tories on the NHS. We are witnessing every day, the broken spectacle of a Prime Minister mired in deceit and deception and unable to lead. But whilst the Tories bicker and fight each other on WhatsApp, I want to look to the future because the NHS faces new challenges.”
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The speech was setting out Labour’s “contract for better health” to provide people with the “security, prosperity and respect they deserve”.
He said the system needs to be more about the patient and improve resilience.
He said that the “mess” of the health service wasn’t just about the pandemic but has been neglected for years.
Taking questions, he said he thought allegations over the parties at Downing Street had made the mental health situation worse.
“What has happened in recent weeks, where it’s become obvious that the vast majority of the British public were obeying the laws the Government made, the Government and PM were partying in Downing Street. I think that’s added to mental health stress because so many people are now asking themselves ‘why on earth did I do that then?’
“When we collectively asked the nation to behave in a certain way, it was important we acted in the same way as the rest of the nation. What we’ve now got to the situation where the Prime Minister has lost the moral authority to lead. Just when you need, because we’re not out of the pandemic, when you need a Government that has that moral authority to lead we’ve lost it with this PM. I don’t just mean that he now admits he was at parties at Downing Street but what he has said along the way. When I first challenged the Prime Minister in relation to these allegations in December he stood at the despatch box and said ‘I’ve been assured there were no parties’
“His first defence was there weren’t any. Then that video came out showing the rehearsal for a press conference and qwhen I put that to the Prime Minister his response was to say ‘it was the first I knew of it, I am furious about these parties of which I knew nothing’.
“Then he had another go last Wednesday where I put to him the invitation and he was at one of them and he then changed his defence to say he was at it but didn’t realise it was a party. This is the important bit, he said ‘I now wish I had got all the staff in from Downing Street’. SO he’s giving the impression that in May 2020 he finally twigged [while] wading through the bottles and food, he twigged he was at a party, having said hello to everybody with a glass of wine, he finally said ‘this must be a party’.
“Then he said at the despatch box he had stumbled upon this party in his own back garden, what a horror and after half an hour he’d worked out it was a party. How does that fit with his first defence was that there were no parties or his second that in December 2021 he was furious having just found out about them?
“I think that has hugely undermined his moral authority to lead.”
He said it didn’t just impact people following Covid rules but said the Prime Minister is “literally in hiding at the moment and is unable to lead”.
“That’s why I’ve concluded he has to go. Of course there is a party advantage in him going but it’s also in the national interest he goes. It’s very important now the Tory party does what it needs to and he goes.
He was asked if his party had followed the rules after photographs emerged of him drinking with party staff in May last year. Labour say he was at a work meeting.
December was the worst month on record for A&E waiting times in England. Figures showed 38.8% of people arriving at major casualty departments had to wait more than four hours to be seen, when the target is 5%.
It is an increase on November’s figure of 38.1% – itself a record. The figure for December 2020 was 28%.
In Wales, where health is devolved and Labour run Welsh Government, there are also record numbers of people waiting for care. Figures in December showed there were 679,626 people waiting for non-urgent NHS care in October, a rise from the 668,801 recorded in September and way up on the 456,809 seen just before the pandemic hit.
Nearly a third (242,101) of people currently on an NHS Wales waiting list have been on it for nine months or more, up from 240,306 the month before. In comparison there were only 28,294 waiting this long in March 2020.
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